The cover of this album features a dozen (generally repugnant) gentlemen clad in pink briefs and tank tops. Each shirt displays the band's name: The Kickass. The album? Death Metal Is for Pussies. My thought: "Now I really hate The Darkness." I couldn't have been more wrong. This North Carolina trio obviously has a sense of humor (a song title like "So...You Want to Have a Led Zeppelin Riff Battle, Huh? Let's Do It." seals it), but irony isn't a compensation for lack of talent. Peeling back the warped aesthetic, this is a serious record, or at least some serious metal. It's instrumental, crammed with fast, punishing wanking and inspired time changes that lend accessibility to ears not predisposed to the heavy stuff. The closer, an epic track called "Cadillac of Doom," stands out with an accessible melody, but the quality's even throughout. These guys can play, and a deliberate craftsmanship is obvious. If you're the headbanging type, this is shockingly indispensable. Fantomas has the math-metal cred, but screw that; you'll play The Kickass more.